Tall, rather weedy-looking as a plant, with narrow, willow-like leaves, the Amsonia stands in the river-bottom pasture or in the waste land where no crops are planted because of annual floods. The Amsonia is a plant of the river bottomlands, one with Clematis pitcheri and the trumpet creeper, the nests of field sparrows and indigo buntings, the songs of the yellowthroat, and the imminence of the river which, in a rainy summer, may flood again.

Willow Amsonia.

Amsonia tabernaemontana Walt.

Summer Bottomlands.

The flower cluster of willow Amsonia is a surprise, when one finds it for the first time. Instead of a milkweed flower, which the milky juice of the plant might lead one to suspect, or instead of a nondescript flower such as the weediness of the plant might suggest, here is a delicate cluster of star-shaped, pale porcelain blue flowers with a slight fragrance. Some of the flowers are five-petaled, others six, tubular, paler in the throat and darker on the outside of the tube. The silk-tufted seeds are packed into a long, narrow seed pod much like that of Indian hemp, in which family the Amsonia is found.

Willow amsonia is a plant more commonly found in the middle west and southwest than in the east, yet its name is derived from that of Dr. Amson, a physician of Gloucester, Virginia, in 1760, who was a friend of the botanist, John Clayton. Linnaeus, in searching for enough names to go around to all the plants in the New World as well as the old, used Dr. Amson's name to designate the pale blue blossoms of willow Amsonia in an Illinois river bottomland.